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July 20, 2006

Comments

Christine the Soccer Mom

I hadn't even HEARD of Colbert three months ago, and now I never miss his show. He interviewed a college prof on embryonic stem cells and cloning earlier in the week and asked questions that I have only dreamt of people asking these scientists! (I commented on it the next day at my blog.)

I'm a fan, even if he's more to the Left of me. Who cares? He's funny and there is a whole lot of Catholic packed into his show.

Of course, I frequently watch with Hubby and comment, "He's SUCH a GEEK!"

Morning's Minion

His evisceration of Bush and the media was a stroke of genius!

Robin

Three nights ago (watching a rerun), I got mad at Colbert because he took Jesus' name in vain, which I thought was pandering to his "base."

The following night (watching another rerun), I could have kissed him because he stood up for the Catholic position on ESCR, totally confusing his audience, against some author who was arguing that embryos are the same thing as cast-off skin cells. (Stephen's retort: "Are you saying that, if I rub my arm real hard, loosening a lot of skin cells, in a few weeks there will be BABIES all over my arm?")

The beauty of it is, his audience doesn't know whether he's being ironic or sincere. (Sometimes I have the same problem with Colbert.)

The South Park guys have gotten away with dealing with religion and life issues, too, to a mixed extent, but they're much more ambivalent about religion.

dave

his liturgical dance is really funny, what a hoot, thanks for posting that Amy!!! :-)

nicole

I love the guy! Another hysterical interview in that archive is Caitlin Flannagan.

My kids have been cracking up over that liturgical dance video. My 11yo said, "Dancing? In Church?"

:-)
Nicole

Nate Metzger

I see a very different Colbert than my proactively anti-religion roommates. The three of us watch Stewart and Colbert every night. Colbert to me seems to be using his O'Reilly-esque persona to sometimes brilliantly mock the ridiculousness of the media-right, but sometimes to give us his actual views on things. Sometimes, I don't even think his audience gets it. His recitation of the Nicene Creed, for example, certainly was not entirely in jest. Colbert most certainly is a religious man, and when he 'nails' his guests, sometimes the (real) joke is on us.

kcl

My favorite catholic Colbert moment was during an interview w/Maureen Dowd, she made some crack about them both being Catholic and therefore anti-pleasure. He snapped back [paraphrasing] "my parents had 11 kids, don't tell me they were anti-pleasure!"

Hear Hear!

Mike

I saw his embryonic stem cell research interview the other day. He stopped just short of completely destroying the pro-embryonic research guy's arguments.

For example, the guest was trying to say that embryos were the same as skin cells. Colbert then asked if that meant if he didn't wash his arm for a long time, he would grow babies on his arm.

Additionally, the guy claimed that embryos were invisible and if he had some in his coffee mug and sneezed, they would float in the air and you might inadvertantly swallow one (I know, strange argument). He argued that that would be cannibalism, which would be a worse crime. So Colbert then asked something to the effect of, "So are you saying that we unknowing inhale embryos without knowing it?" The guy didn't know what to say.

Jason

The Dowd interview is on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-45vTPYGn_w&search=colbert%20maureen%20dowd

The quip about being Catholic comes in at 1:19.

Kevin Jones

Colbert's interview with Sam "The End of Faith" Harris pretty effectively skewers Harris' cliche-based invective.

Colbert is using cant to transcend cant. I'll take him over Sean Hannity any day.

Mike

There's something unseemly (at least to me) about trying to ascertain the boundaries of Colbert's faith. It seems an exercise that is designed to label him—to put him into a box, so that everything else he says can be viewed through the lens of him as a liberal/conservative Catholic. I for one like the ambiguity.

ATP

I tend to agree with Mike. On the other hand, this interview with Terry Gross is pretty revealing about his beliefs:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4464017

I think he is hilarious and I even saw the "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" on which he played something like a maniacal stamp collector.

Chris Floyd

Don't miss this interview in the Onion with Colbert and Daily Show veteran Mo Rocca quipping about their shared Catholicism:

http://www.avclub.com/content/node/22599

Onion: You still go to church?

Stephen Colbert: Uh, yeah. One True Bride Of Christ. [Laughter.]

Mo Rocca: Maybe you've heard of it.

SC: Founded by this guy named Jesus! [Laughter.] The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. It's in The Bible, read it.

Liz

Let's not forget Colbert's former Daily Show segment: "This Week in God." Best fake religion coverage I've ever seen. :-)

texanne

I agree with a previous commenter who took offense at Colbert's using the Lord's name in vain. I have heard him say "G_ _ d_ _ _" more than once. Also, in the Stangers With Candy movie, his character is a science teacher who is attempting to teach the creation theory. The character pompously quotes Bible verses in an obvious mocking of anyone who believes in intelligent design. A crucifix is also seen hanging on the outside of his classroom door.
That really made me cringe.
I know nobody's perfect, but these kinds of things would never have led me to conclude that Colbert was a Christian.

Jason

Texanne,

I find his poking fun at religious folks funny in a self deprecating kind of way. I also cringe sometimes, but even when I disagree, I have to laugh, because his caricatures usually have a grain of truth. I saw him interviewing a politician once about homosexuality, and asked something like, "Should homosexuals be allowed to go to public bathrooms" or something like that. Behind that I assumed was an idea that the Christian opposition to homosexuality is irrational and bigoted, like racism. But it's still funny to me, because we DO have a tendency to treat homosexuality like the end all be all of society's problems.

He admits he's not a particularly religious guy. He's a typical cultural Catholic, although he seems sincere. I guess we should take that for what it's worth. It could be worse; he could be a bitter secularist. Maybe he will come around fully some day.

MercyMe

I don't see where this is a valid argument at all:

"He admits he's not a particularly religious guy. He's a typical cultural Catholic, although he seems sincere. "

He's not playing at being a believer--his work and interviews show that there is a depth of belief. Can he be both a serious believer and someone who has fun with his faith? I'd say yes. Does he need to wear his beliefs out on his sleeve to become the next Catholic Celebrity? No, I think he's a better evangelizer from the margins.

If SC does nothing else, he shows that faith is a normal thing to embrace--that the smart, funny guy can also believe in God.

For that, I say get the beatification process rolling now...

ambrose

My favorite Colbert-ism that I have shameless taken on as my own:
Atheism: that religion entirely devoted to one's own sense of superiority

Jason

MercyMe,

The point about not being religious is his, not mine. From the NPR interview linked above:

While I'm not a particularly religious person, I do go to Church...

He also admits that he's comfortable disagreeing with the Church:

I don't believe that I can't disagree with my Church, and I'll leave it at that.

I think orthodoxy is an important point before we raise someone to the honors of the altar.

I'm not saying he's eeeevil or should be shunned. Just the opposite. It's refreshing to see someone who's not ashamed to say he goes to Church. But, just because someone goes to Church doesn't make them a Saint or a role model. Take him for what it's worth. He's like a lot of Americans who go to Church but wouldn't define themselves by their obedience to their faith. It's a start, and like I said, hopefully he'll come to see the Church as something more.

jennifer

My husband and I love his character on the Colbert Report. It's great satire. He's very clever and quick. As for his religiosity (is that a word?), I think he has fun with his faith. He could have great faith and still make jokes about it. Happy are those who laugh at themselves.

Kevin Jones

So, who would be a Strongly Orthodox counterpart to Steven Colbert, and could he or she ever make it on EWTN, let alone regular television? How would his or her comedy routines differ?

I myself think Dog the Bounty Hunter is the most Christian show I've seen.

MercyMe

SC isn't Catholic ENOUGH for you, Jason?

The man:
-Served as the catechist for his child
-Goes to church regularly
-Recites the Creed, quotes scripture and sports a cross of ashes on Ash Wednesday

I don't think he's just reveling in the culture of Catholicism, I think there is something actually there, something that is perhaps missed by others taking his "orthodox temperature."

I know people who are turned off by the title of being "religious" even when they are active churchgoers who show their faith in how they live. Maybe it's because some pounce on "religiosity" and measure that against their own ideas of what being a religious person means to them.

SC makes a mockery of those who tout (false) sincerity and who love truthiness over the truth each night on his show. I have to think that it is because he holds sincerity and the truth and true religious sentiment with more esteem than those pundits who play at it for money. Watch the 60 Minutes interview with SC and it speaks a lot to who he SC is and what he values.

James Kabala

He seems like a complex guy. He probably does have liberal positions on homosexuality and birth control (although it's interesting that he told Terry Gross to "presume away" rather than explicitly confirming that he had liberal views on the latter), but he clearly is more than a "cultural Catholic." He has appeared in some off-color fare, but so has even Mel Gibson. It will be interesting to how the Catholicism aspect of his public persona develops over the next few years if the show remains a hit.
It's interesting that his former Daily Show colleague Steve Carrell is supposedly also a practicing Catholic. I haven't seen THE 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN, which I must admit received an O from the USCCB, but many who have seen agree that underneath the filthy jokes the movie was actually supportive of the protagonist's abstinence, which
SPOILER ALERT
he maintained until his wedding night (to a divorcee, I believe - nobody's perfect).

Jason

SC isn't Catholic ENOUGH for you, Jason?

The man:
-Served as the catechist for his child
-Goes to church regularly
-Recites the Creed, quotes scripture and sports a cross of ashes on Ash Wednesday

You could say that about millions of contracepting Catholics in America.

It has nothing to do with justifying himself before me. I'm simply stating facts. He doesn't consider himself a very religious person, and he thinks it's ok to disagree with the Church. Doesn't sound to me like someone on fire for Catholic doctrine.

What does that mean? Nothing. If that's who he is, that's who he is. Everyone is at a different stage of their journey. It's none of my business what he believes.

However, that doesn't mean I'm gonna hold him out as a model Catholic layman. He doesn't seem to hold himself out as one, so I wouldn't presume to myself. There was the same rush to anoint "St. Mel" back when "The Passion" came out. It's like we're so starved for religious people in the entertainment industry that we feel the need to venerate anyone who can recite a Hail Mary.

If you like his show, great. I like it myself. But be aware that there may sometimes be more there than just sarcasm and irony. When he mocks pharmacists who refuse to fill contraceptive prescriptions, he may happen to support contraception (at least that's the impression I got from the NPR interview). That's all I'm saying. Let's be happy that he considers himself Catholic and goes to Church; just hold off on the beatification ceremony.

Jason

By the way, when I said he's a "cultural Catholic", I didn't mean he just goes through the motions. It sounds to me like he's genuinely a spiritual man. All I meant that he doesn't seem to believe obedience to the teaching of the Church is the most important thing in life. Not that he doesn't think it's important.

Jason

Sorry for three posts (this will be my last), but I just wanted to add that my point is not about judging Steven Colbert or his spiritual life. But I admit I was a saddened to hear him say that he doesn't consider himself that religious, that he doesn't think he can't disagree with the Church. Not because I think he's an evil man because of it, but because holiness is the most important thing in this life. It's great that he goes to Church and teaches his daughter about the faith. I just wish that we would want more. It would be great to hear him say, "Life in Christ is the most important thing in my life, I want to believe everything God reveals and be a loyal son of his Church, in all that she teaches." We see people like Steven Colbert, and we think "See, I can go to Church and disagree with the Church and still be a good Catholic." Lay people need to realize that Catholicism can't just be another thing in your life. It has to be everything. We should seek to be faithful to Catholicism in everything we do, without reserve.

It's not about him personally, even if he doesn't see the Church with that same intensity. Nobody's perfect, God knows I'm not. But I am genuinely sad when holiness and obedience to the Church are not our most treasured values.

amywelborn

James:

I've not seen the 40-Year Old Virgin, but Frederica Mathewes Green, in her review of Art School Confidential (now, this is getting complex), writes:

There was a similar odd mix of conservative ideas and very raw material in last year’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” (A friend told me, “If it wasn’t for the nudity and obscenity, it could have been made by Focus on the Family.”)

Not a defense, just a description.

texanne

I agree with Kevin that "Dog the Bounty Hunter" is one of the most Christian shows on television. It's strangely fascinating to watch the rather "rough" looking, tatooed bounty hunting family capture bail jumpers, and then spend time with them, encouraging them in the most kind hearted way to lead better lives. I have often been touched to see their truly Christian care and concern for some very downtrodden souls. And unlike SC, I have never heard them make any mocking comments about God or religion.

Will Barrett

Hey its okay to criticize Stephen Colbert, but Mel Gibson, come on!

Maureen

Look, we don't know what Colbert means by "disagree with the Church". For all we know, he means, "Well, I wish they'd bring back the Tridentine Mass in Latin, but of course I'm sticking with the Church whatever I think."

Disagreeing with certain things about the Church is okay -- prudential matters, or things like current culture of Church members. Disagreeing with the Magisterium, or with (as Colbert called Her), the One True Bride of Christ, is another matter.

And frankly, anybody who will make a joke with the Nicene Creed that entails reciting it all is probably not harboring huge amounts of unorthodoxy. I could be wrong, but I just don't get that feel.

Boko Fittleworth

I think there's something deep about Colbert's faith. Quoted above, he used the phrase "One True Bride of Christ." Who talks that way? When have you heard that phrase used in a homily? Colbert's young enough to have gone through the post-VII lack of catechesis of the 70s/80s, where that phrase was never mentioned.

Don't get me wrong, that phrase is out there, but only someone who did a little digging into his faith would have it on the tip of his tongue. So I think there's some real depth to Colbert's faith. Maybe some traditionalist tendencies, as well.

Brigid

Finally! Hurray!

St. Blog's discovers what's really behind many of the shows at the Comedy Channel: comedy!

And, yes, making fun of religion is a part of life esp. for Americans. At the same time, you make fun of politics and sex, thus the "forbidden" topics.

South Park (the first), Stewart, Colbert are *masters* at making fun of so much in American life. Of course, what St. Blog's is now discovering is the Comedy Channel's poking fun at America's *crazy* religioius sensibiltiy.

Of course, real credit for all of this recent religious comedy is with the master himself, Matt Groening, of "The Simpsons"... Still the best.

John P Sheridan

Jason,

"While I'm not a particularly religious person, I do go to Church..."

This statement says a lot less than you seem to think it does. I'm curious, do you often describe yourself as "very religious," or "particularly religious"? Would you do so to people you don't know?

For some people, at least here in the northeast, going to church every week is the same as being "very religious."

"I don't believe that I can't disagree with my Church, and I'll leave it at that."

Honestly, disagreement with the Church happens right here on this very blog all the time. Did you "agree" with the way the Church dealt with the pervert priests? did anyone?

Adam D

Jason is right on about those quotes from Colbert. In the NPR interview he was responding to a query regarding one of his jokes (a 'this week in God' segment of the daily show where he belittled a pharmacist for not filling prescriptions for birth control pills on the grounds that he was against abortion) and in which response Colbert made it quite evident that he is unaware of the abortifacient nature of the pill, that he supports the use of the pill for contracepting and he hinted that he was against abortion, claiming the pharmacist is hypocritical ... the pill (by contracepting) helps prevent abortions, Colbert argued. When pressed on his support of contraception Colbert offered the line about the acceptability of disagreeing with the Church.

All the rest of Jason's disclaimers are great too. We needn't condemn Colbert. But we certainly shouldn't hold him up as candidate for sainthood.

Delance

http://amywelborn.typepad.com/openbook/2006/07/colbert_redux.html

Here he calls B16 a "nazi Pope" and says the Church has already traded its Value (the Cross) for values (money) as in indulgences. Yeah, very catholic.

Delance

Of course, that was a mistake. Here's the correct link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkHuOznCOjw

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